People have begun to ask what was behind the recent attempt to pigeon-hole Governor Palin into a September 3rd announcement, and while none of us can be certain, I have my own suspicions about it.  Over the last week or so, there have been a number of stories surfacing about Chris Christie and Paul Ryan and attempts by some to get them to run, and I suspect this may have been part of the driving force.  Time is running out for candidates to enter the race, everybody knows it, and everybody paying attention also knows that Sarah Palin is in the catbird seat.  The idea probably had been to push her into a premature announcement, in order to make room for some candidate or other after her entry.  In politics, if money move mountains, then timing knocks them down.  All of this is probably evidence of a recognition by Rove and Morris that time is running out.  Both have been participants in successful Presidential campaigns that started late, and both know the advantages of being last.

The last candidate to enter generally gets a turn at setting the tone of the campaign, and highlighting issues most favorable to their resumé.  Every candidate, as he or she enters, gets a momentary bump in attention and support from this phenomenon.  Think of it like the “Latest, Greatest” mentality that works so well in marketing.  It works because people are geared to looking for better alternatives than what they already have, and invariably, some number will find it in the latest, greatest, new and improved offering.  More,  people tend to remember the last they’ve seen more clearly than similar things they’ve seen previously.  In this election season, it’s what I’ve termed the “savior-of-the-month-club,” and I think it’s pretty clear that Rove and Morris, rather than leaving the advantage to Governor Palin, decided to make a play to push her in sooner so they could score the advantages of introducing their candidate afterward.

This is a time-tested maneuver, and I suppose these two professional DC-insiders might be forgiven for trying to strategically place their candidate to great advantage, whoever is under consideration, but it serves as a lesson about the way DC plays this game.  Sarah Palin has said she doesn’t think the field is set, and most have supposed she is referencing herself, but I think while there may be an implication in there about her own plans, it may also be a statement about how she sees this race shaping up, and whether she thinks we may yet see others getting in.  I suspect that she is more conscious than most about the consequences of timing, and the response from SarahPac on Monday night supports the notion that she’s fully aware of the stakes.

Some of you may be asking who this mystery candidate might be.  It doesn’t matter.  If Governor Palin plays her cards right, we may never know.  That will depend upon how serious that candidate might be about entering anyway, and like much in politics, it may be a case of opportunism.  It may be somebody who would only enter the race under the optimal conditions, but by waiting, Palin may be taking that away.   If no particular opportunity remains, many of the candidates who might enter the campaign will demur as the moment slips away.

Now, whether any of this is part of Governor Palin’s thinking is anybody’s guess, but there’s another thing to be learned from the episode that played out Monday in the media, in the blogs, and even on Facebook.  We have heard various professional media pundits including Rove suggest that Palin has no organization and no ground-game and that it’s too late to create or build one, and most of us have concluded based on what we know that either these people are blind, or they are willfully ignoring the facts.  What we saw Monday tends to confirm our thinking and put the lie to what DC punditry has been asserting.  Part of the the intention of the trick must have been to break the morale of Palin supporters everywhere, who were beginning to believe, based on Rove’s statements, that 9/3 must be the day, but this narrative was broken and reversed.  That happened only because as doubts about the narrative began to be expressed, the message went out to Palin supporters to avoid falling for any false expectations being pushed in the media.  While there’s always somebody who doesn’t get the message, I think it’s clear that a large number of people were quickly informed of the potential sabotage being done.  When SarahPac issued its statement on the matter, that put an exclamation point on the matter with a certain finality that ended the squeeze play dead in its tracks.

That’s only possible precisely because there is a burgeoning network of Palinistas who get the word out with furious speed when misleading stories and narratives appear in the media.  In that sense, it demonstrates some of the holes in the extended media meme that there is no organization.  For a “non-organization,” that network of Palin supporters certainly made minced meat of a theme that could have done much damage.

We need to be mindful of all of this.  There are people who will try to manage events to their advantage, or simply to sabotage others.  We shouldn’t allow ourselves to be manipulated this way, and we ought to be careful to help others not fall prey.  At this moment, there are still a few spreading stories about anonymous Tea Party leaders saying this or that, and implying Sarah Palin will announce on 9/3.  Correct them when you can.  It simply comes down to this: When Governor Palin wants to announce, she’ll let us know.  In the interim, we should be watchful for those who knowingly or even innocently continue to spread inaccurate information.  Let’s put this latest episode to bed.  Rove, Morris, et al failed to force Mrs. Palin’s hand.

 

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